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Hrithik Roshan's Super 30 character Anand Kumar comes under a cloud

The celebrated teacher's reputation is at stake after reports emerged saying he fudged data of Super 30 programme students who cleared the IIT-JEE (Advanced) examination this year.

Hrithik Roshan with Vikas Bahl and Anand Kumar (right)

Mayur Lookhar

Hrithik Roshan’s next film is based on mathematician Anand Kumar, who introduced the Super 30 programme to prepare students from poor families for the entrance exam to get admission to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

While the film's shooting is under way, director Vikas Bahl and producers will be alarmed by reports that have raised doubts about the credibility and integrity of Anand Kumar and his institute.

According to a report on the website of India Today magazine, Anand Kumar allegedly fudged data about the number of students who got selected for the IITs this year after enrolling in his Super 30 programme.

An earlier report from the Press Trust of India news agency had stated that 26 of the 30 students in the latest batch had cleared the Joint Entrance Examination (Advanced) this year. The results of the IIT-JEE (Advanced) were announced on 10 June.

The report quoted Anand Kumar citing Onorjit Goswami, Suraj Kumar, Yash Kumar and Suryakant Das as students who had benefited from his coaching programme. There was no mention of the other 22 students of his who had passed.

But now, reports have emerged that raise serious doubt about Anand Kumar's credibility. According to the India Today report, Suraj Kumar was coached by a centre in Kota, Rajasthan.

The website quoted a former student, Gagan, as saying, "Only Onorjit is a student of Super 30. The rest of the students who have been claimed by Anand Kumar belong to other coaching institutes. Anand Kumar promised them hefty sums as scholarship to be part of his conspiracy." 

While speaking to PTI agency, Suraj Kumar had credited Anand Kumar with helping him to clear the IIT-JEE (Advanced). "Anand sir not just mentored us free of cost, but he also boosted our morale. My father does not even know what IIT stands for, but he is happy that I cracked a tough exam,” he had said. 

A source who was once associated with Anand Kumar said, “The real creator of Super 30 is [IPS officer] Mr Abhayanand. It was he who mooted the idea of having a coaching centre for poor children. Abhayanandji roped in Anand Kumar to teach and manage the day-to-day affairs of the centre. Mr.Abhayanand parted ways with Anand Kumar after an awards do where Anand Kumar accepted a cash prize of Rs5 lakh though he [Abhayanand] refused it.”

Speaking to Cinestaan.com. Abhayanand said, “For me this was always a social initiative. I never wanted to commercialize it in any way. That is why I had refused the cash prize. I didn’t like it that Anand Kumar took the cash prize at the function [CNN-IBN Real Heroes]. It was then that I started to get suspicious of his motives. We separated in 2008, and I then started my Rahmani 30 programme after local Muslims requested me to help them."

Abhayanand refused to comment on the current controversy. He had just one suggestion for Anand Kumar: “Can you officially declare the list of all 26 students from your coaching centre who passed the IIT-JEE (Advanced)? Give that list and there will be no controversy.”

Apart from the charge of falsehood, there are allegations that Anand Kumar makes money by getting students desirous of joining the Super 30 programme to enrol in a private institute. From what we gathered, Ramanujan School of Mathematics is nothing but a coaching institute that Anand Kumar himself founded over 20 years ago. We tried calling the institute's office. A lady, who did not give her name, answered and claimed that Super 30 and the Ramanujan School are but one entity.

According to the source who was once close to Anand Kumar, students who have to enrol at the private coaching class have to pay high fees. “Anand Kumar founded his institute 20 years ago," the source said. "The Super 30 programme was created in 2002. For the first 5-6 years, things were pretty smooth, but then they began to change.

"He used to send some of the  Super 30 programme students to his private institute where I’m told they would be charged fees as high as Rs33,000. If he has achieved fame for imparting free, quality education, why is he making money out of such students?”

Despite repeated attempts, neither Anand Kumar nor his brother Pranava, who manages the Super 30 programme, replied to calls and text messages.

While Anand Kumar now faces a battle to protect his integrity, what impact the controversy will have on Hrithik Roshan’s film Super 30 remains to be seen. 

An industry insider said, “I don’t foresee any problem for the film. I believe most of the film has already been shot. Most people will, perhaps, forget about the controversy when the film is ready for release next year. Also, there are murmurs that maybe this controversy is another way for Kangana Ranaut to hit back at Hrithik Roshan.”

Director Vikas Bahl did not respond to calls and text messages from Cinestaan.com till the time of publishing this report. Super 30 is scheduled for release on 25 January 2019.